Randall King knows a thing or two about a good old fashioned honky tonk heartbreaker.
There’s just nothin’ like a sad country song, and if you follow Whiskey Riff in any capacity, then you know how much all of us here love them.
And since some of my favorite artists in the genre right now have written some of my very favorite sad songs that hurt so good, I wanted to know what some of their favorite’s were that inspired them to write soul-crushing music just like George, Willie, Merle, Waylon and all the other country greats.
So far for this new Sad Country Songs series, we’ve heard some great picks from Whiskey Myers frontman Cody Cannon, Wade Bowen, the corn queen Hailey Whitters, the one and only Miranda Lambert, Graycie York, Riley Green, and today, the honky tonk man himself, Randall King, is giving us his favorite sad country song.
Presented by our friends at Templeton Distillery, Randall says his go-to is from the late, great Keith Whitley:
“My go to sad country song would have to be Whitley’s ‘I Never Go Around Mirrors,’ Haggard’s ‘Sing Me Back Home,’ or Strait’s ‘Poison.’ Any of the three would do the job any day.
One that always sticks out in my mind that is hard to listen to somedays is John Anderson’s ‘I Just Came Home To Count The Memories,’ which for me is more of a sad song in the sense of reminiscing on your home life growing up and being away from that town and those memories which really plays into my own life.”
Written by Lefty Frizzell Whitey Shafer, Lefty first included “I Never Go Around Mirrors (I’ve Got a Heartache to Hide)” on his 1973 album The Legendary.
Keith later included his rendition on his classic Don’t Close Your Eyes album, which also included incredible songs like the title track, as well as “When You Say Nothing at All” and “I’m No Stranger to the Rain.”
Randall says he gained an appreciation for these songs growing up listening to them in his dads truck:
“I listened to these songs with my dad growing up in the truck, all apart from Strait’s ‘Poison’ which came out when I was in college.
I was going to school at South Plains College learning sound technology and just loved the sonics of the song and the way it moved dynamically, really drew to me the depth of how a song can move and pull emotions out of someone just based off instrumentation and space within a mix.
I actually had the privilege of singing ‘I Never Go Around Mirrors’ with the Time Jumpers and Vince Gill was singing harmony with me. Was a pretty special memory for me.”
There’s just something about this kind of music that resonates so deeply with people, and the West Texas native says it’s because it allows us to feel less alone when we’re sad, and sometimes, they’re just flat out fun to listen to even when you’re in a great mood:
“I think life is full of hardships and sad times for everyone. How do you grow without obstacles to build you?
But I think in those times, we love knowing that someone else feels the same, that we aren’t alone. And for the oddballs like me that just like to listen to sad country songs, I think that’s more based on good memories we’ve had listening to sad songs.
I also just enjoy a good story so that almost always comes with sad songs.”
And there ain’t no such thing as a sad country song without some beautiful, woozy steel guitar…
“Personally, in country music, a sad song ain’t much without a steel guitar drivin’ the hair on your arms up. IT’S MOVING!”
Amen to that…
You simply cannot ever go wrong with a little Keith Whitley, either.
“I Never Go Around Mirrors”
And Randall has so many good honky tonk heartbreakers to pick from, but I’ve always loved “Hey Moon,” from his 2020 Leanna EP.
That project is still one of my favorite things he’s ever put out, and I love the concept on this song where he finds himself talking to the moon about his heartbreak, and even though he knows most people would think he’s crazy for doing so, he has to try whatever he can to get this girl back.
Randall also stopped by the Whiskey Riff Raff podcast recently, so make sure you check that out while you’re here too.
They have a multitude of different kinds of whiskey, from their flagship variety of rye whiskey to the top-shelf specialities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
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